Known today also as Qal’at Sherqat, the ancient Assyrian city of Assur is located in the Saladin Governorate of modern day Iraq, about 280 km (174 miles) north of the capital, Baghdad. This city was first settled by human beings during the 3 rd millennium BC, and is believed to have been occupied up until the 2 nd century AD. It was, however, during the Assyrian period that Assur rose to prominence, serving as the capital of the Assyrian Empire at various points of time.
The city of Assur was located on a limestone bluff on the west bank of the Tigris River. According to the archaeological evidence, the site was first occupied around the middle of the 3 rd millennium BC. It has been speculated that the original inhabitants of Assur had arrived there from either Syria or from the south. During this time, Assur was a city state, and thought to have been in close contact with the Sumerian city states of the south. Assur was a subject of Sargon of Akkad and his successor. Moreover, during the Third Dynasty of Ur, there is evidence that a governor was sent by the rulers of this dynasty to the city. It may be added that the Temple of Ishtar and the Old Palace belong to this period of the city’s history.